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Sixers officially shut Joel Embiid down for rest of season

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Is playing in 31 games enough to win Rookie of the Year?

That’s the question buzzing around the NBA after Philadelphia made official what a lot of people expected: Joel Embiid is being shut down for the rest of the season to let his knee heal. An MRI Monday led to the decision, according to the team.

“The assessment of Monday’s follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid’s left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan,” said Sixers Chief Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Glashow in a statement released by the team. “We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.”

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction all season. He was incredibly efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2 — and when he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by three points per 100 possessions. He was clear and away the best rookie when he played, with the Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon and the Nugget’s Jamal Murray a distant second and third.

Still, just 31 games. The fewest games a Rookie of the Year has played in up to this point is 50 by Patrick Ewing.

Talking to voters, I get the sense Embiid is still the frontrunner for the award and may well win. Marc Stein of ESPN summed it up well.

Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox out at least 7-10 days with sprained ankle

De'Aaron Fox sprained ankle
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For a Sacramento team with playoff dreams, this is a punch to the gut: De'Aaron Fox is going to be sidelined until around the start of seeding games — 7-10 days at least — with a sprained ankle.

The Kings’ announced that their point guard sprained his left ankle in practice Wednesday. While he will be re-evaluated in 7-10 days, he could be out longer. This is the same ankle Fox sprained in November that caused him to miss 17 games.

The Kings’ first game is 16 days away against San Antonio.

Fox, arguably the fastest player in the league with the ball in his hands, averaged 20.4 points, and 6.8 assists this season, playing at a near All-star level once he came back from the sprained ankle. Fox is the engine of the Sacramento offense, it is 5.2 points per 100 possessions worse when he is off the court.

Sacramento comes into the restart in a virtual tie with Portland and New Orleans for the ninth seed in the West, 3.5 games back of Memphis. However, the Kings have not been able to get their stars on the court together: Harrison Barnes and Alex Len and remain in Sacramento, quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus. Richaun Holmes is in quarantine on his Walt Disney World hotel room after leaving the confines of the NBA bubble to pick up a food delivery.

All of which combine to make it an even longer shot the Kings end their 14-year playoff drought this season. The sprained ankle for De’Aaron Fox, if it slows him at all, would be a serious blow to those chances.

 

Spurs: Trey Lyles out rest of season (appendectomy)

Spurs forward Trey Lyles
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The Spurs lost their top big in LaMarcus Aldridge.

Now, they’ll lose Trey Lyles, who often started at power forward next to Aldridge and also played behind Aldridge at center.

Spurs release:

Spurs forward Trey Lyles underwent an appendectomy earlier today in Orlando, Fla.

Lyles will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

San Antonio’s last seeding game is scheduled for Aug. 13 – nearly a month away. Theoretically, Lyles could have tried to return by then.

The NBA dodges a complication with the Spurs ruling him out for the rest of the season.

Lyles left the NBA’s campus for his surgery. (Disney World is in Lake Buena Vista. He underwent surgery in Orlando.) That means he faced exposure in Florida, where coronavirus cases are surging. It would have been tricky bringing him back into the bubble safely while not punishing him for requiring medical attention.

The NBA will probably face this conundrum with someone else later. But the league avoids that situation for now.

San Antonio’s problems are more pressing.

Jakob Poeltl is now the Spurs’ top center, but he fits poorly with DeMar DeRozan because they’re both non-shooters from 3-point range. Rudy Gay should see plenty of time at power forward.

Behind them, options – newly signed Tyler Zeller, Drew Eubanks, Chimezie Metu and Luka Samanic – are uninspiring.

Gregg Popovich truly must muster some magic for San Antonio to extend its record playoff streak.

Pelican’s Jrue Holiday donating restart salary, maybe $5.3 million, to charity

Jrue Holiday
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Jrue Holiday isn’t just talking social justice, he’s putting his money where it matters.

Holiday will donate his game checks from the NBA restart in Orlando — which could be as much as $5.3 million — to charitable causes (particularly black-owned businesses hit by the coronavirus) through the new Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund he is about to set up.

The Pelicans’ point guard went on ESPN’s “The Jump” live from his bubble hotel room to explain the decision he made with his wife (Lauren is won two gold medals and a World Cup playing for USA Soccer).

“Honestly when it came down to it, it was me and my wife talking about what we could do to kind of further this movement and progression and being able to help out our community and just being able to help,” Jrue Holiday told ESPN.

“We were just kind of sitting in the house, in the bed, thinking about it, and my wife said, ‘I think you should do this and you should do the rest of your salary.’ That’s a great idea. Because we want to make an impact. God has blessed us with so much. We know a couple of things that are important are time and money, and right now, we have both. To be able to give away our money to help further this movement and Black-owned businesses that have taken a hit in COVID-19, to us, it felt like the perfect time and opportunity.”

That is walking the walk. Well done by Jrue and Lauren.

Dwyane Wade tweets support for Nick Cannon, says he wasn’t supporting Cannon’s words

Former Heat star Dwyane Wade and Nick Cannon
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Another week, another former NBA player appearing to endorse anti-Semitic messaging.

Nick Cannon got fired from ViacomCBS after making racist and anti-Semitic comments. He then posted to Facebook both apologizing and demanding an apology.

Former Heat star Dwyane Wade tweeted and deleted:

@NickCannon We are with you ✊ Keep leading!

Wade then posted:

I don’t know what Wade meant. I hope he wasn’t endorsing Cannon’s toxic rhetoric. Wade’s explanation is at least plausible.

And, unlike Stephen Jackson, Wade quickly clarified rather than doubling down.

Want to support Cannon in his fight over branding control? That’s fine. But Wade also could have done so in a way that didn’t so easily give the impression he was co-signing Cannon’s racism and anti-Semitism. That’s a reasonable expectation for Wade, who has proven he can be so thoughtful.

Maybe there’s just a small lesson to be learned here about clarity and context while communicating to a mass audience.

If there’s a larger lesson to be learned, I hope Wade gets that, too.